The Problem With Venting About Your Students

Karen Head

Posted March 18, 2021

External Article: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Karen Head, associate professor and associate chair of the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, was quoted in the article "The Problem With Venting About Your Students," published March 18, 2021 in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The article explored the pitfalls of the ubiquitous practice of professors and teachers voicing gripes about their students, which has recently been placed under the microscope due to it being caught on video. Head offered her thoughts on two recent high-profile examples at Widener and Georgetown universities.


Characterizing students’ abilities based on their race crosses a bright line for many professors. “We know that implicit bias is a problem,” said Karen Head, associate chair of the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. What the Georgetown instructor said, though, was “pretty explicit,” said Head, who is also the executive director of the Naugle CommLab.

The Widener comments, Head said, sound more like the run-of-the-mill venting session professors might have in the mailroom, or over a coffee. “Complaining about students,” Head said, “is as old as teachers and students.” So long as it stays behind closed doors, she said, it’s often seen as harmless. But, she added, “I don’t think that it is.”

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